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Nintendo needs to improve the build quality of Switch hardware

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    Having now been on the market for just over two years, the Nintendo Switch has really made a name for itself by already amassing over 34 million units worldwide. But as popular as the system has become, that doesn’t mean it’s been easy for people to overlook its faults. Namely, as it relates to the build quality of the console and its core accessories. With rampant rumors swirling around about two alleged new models releasing later this year, a “Switch Lite” and “Switch Pro,” here’s hoping that they come with significant changes to the building process.

    Like every other console before it, the Switch had to deal with its fair share of launch issues. The main problem was the left Joy-Con constantly desyncing. But even more serious issues were experienced by a handful of users with their consoles glitching out and getting bricked. In a pretty short space of time, these issues were fixed; again, they’re a natural (yet still unfortunate) part of any hardware launch. Even so, this certainly wouldn’t be the end of the Switch’s series of hardware problems.

    Another issue that has been developing for a growing number of users (myself included) and that has gained a lot of attention is the infamous “Joy-Con drift” problem. It’s characterized by the analog stick’s axis being off-center and usually getting stuck moving in one direction. While this is fixed relatively easily by using a bit of electronic contact cleaner, it appears that this issue is the result of a design flaw and will inevitably affect all Joy-Con eventually. Thus, like many of the other problems the Switch has, Nintendo is really going to have to step in and fix it at a manufacturing level.

    Growing pains

    An issue I recently ran into is one I didn’t even have prior knowledge of being a known problem until I saw Nintendo’s official troubleshooting page addressing it: malfunctioning speakers. The right speaker of my console recently gave out; this was preceded by crackling playback. While Nintendo suggests blowing dust out of it, trying that on my unit only resulted in a fix for literally just 10 seconds. Since then, nothing. I’ll have to take apart my Switch and fix it myself since my system is out of warranty.

    That’s really another problem in its own right. Many of the Switch’s hardware issues do require you having to perform “surgery” on your system in order to fix them if your console’s warranty is up. Even if that hasn’t expired yet, you still need to be in a position to actually make use of it. If you live in a country where there’s no official Nintendo representation, then getting support is either impossible or very expensive.

    For instance, although my Switch was purchased in the USA, I don’t live there and am currently in the Bahamas for several months. So, I’d have to ship it to the US and then have it shipped back, all of which would cost shipping fees plus the tax that’s put on electronic goods. I’m certainly not the only one in such a situation. And given these circumstances, there’s yet another layer of complication: the risk of breaking something. Even people with experience have to be careful when working on a device, so imagine people with no experience. YouTube tutorials are definitely helpful, (that’s how I fixed my Wii U Gamepad’s analog stick) but one wrong move could damage a critical component, thus resulting in an even more expensive replacement.

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    Expired warranty woes

    Hence why, again, I have to say that Nintendo has to rectify these issues at a manufacturing level. It would be different if problems were occurring in only a handful of units, like the aforementioned launch issues. But just searching “Joy-Con drift” on YouTube pulls up a sizeable amount of videos, each with views in the thousands, some even in the hundreds of thousands. Other problems I haven’t mentioned yet are things like the screen getting easily scratched, (Mine got scratched just from some micro debris.) the console having a warped shape (which apparently comes from the factory), cracking around the chassis, kickstands becoming brittle, and even the console no longer sending a signal to the dock.

    Despite this laundry list of hardware issues, things for the Switch aren’t nearly as bad as in the early days of the Xbox 360. Millions of units from the early batches ran into the now infamous “Red Ring of Death,” which was caused by overheating.

    No doubt Nintendo is aware of the Switch’s hardware issues, though it’s never provided an official statement outside of the articles on its support page. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to do anything about it, however. With the Switch’s situation being far less dire than that of the aforementioned 360, it could continue on as it is, but a hardware revision would be more than appreciated—that goes for both a new version of the console itself and the Joy-Con. The 360’s woes didn’t really pass until the revised 360 Slim model was released in 2010, so perhaps the same will be true for the Switch. Thus, even if we don’t get entirely new Switch models at all, a hardware revision at the very least is definitely in order.

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